Concert review: St. Vincent and Shearwater at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN – May 12th, 2012

Published by Jeff Becker, 5/14/2012.

We music fans just love a mystery – we all do.   That something that we just cannot define that makes us open our eyes wide.   St. Vincent is our mystery.   Just when you think you start to wrap your arms around St. Vincent’s music, she releases something like ‘Krokodil’.   Just when you see her cover art portrait in all its sweetness, she pulls out the guitar and sends chord structures reverberating off the wall in every strange, unpredictable direction.   Just when you think she knows how to create pop perfection with ‘Cruel’ she turns you upside down and drops you on your head, with glee. Who is this woman, and why do we like her so much?

Well, Annie Clark unleashed is more like it.  A hipster-filled First Avenue crowd left the venue Saturday night in a bubbly awe of the stage presence that has slowly become one masterful St. Vincent.  Delivering a blistering series of nobody-sounds-like-this guitar chops for the better part of 90 minutes, St. Vincent (the stage name for Ms. Annie Clark) fulfilled a sold-out crowd with the best tracks from her three LP’s.  The remarkably eclectic set included ‘Cruel’ – the fucking coolest song that Prince never wrote (a true throwback to the Minneapolis sound from the late 80’s), an obscure cover of  The Pop Group’s ‘She Is Beyond Good and Evil’ and her hard-charging and aforementioned guitar heavy ‘Krokodil’.   The Record Store Day-only release set the crowd (well, mostly security) into a 3-minute minor frenzy as she crowd-surfed the entire track showing zero fear as her head nearly dropped below sea level three times, only to be rescued – without missing a single lyric.

Displaying a vibrant sense of charm, playfulness and pure control of the stage where do you begin to talk about an artist that absolutely refuses to let you put your finger on her?   Her style reaches beyond any definition that you try to create in between your lost syllables and shoulder shrugs.  She’s eclectic, engaging, undeniably talented, slick – and you just can’t precisely explain why.   Her songs follow very little structure that we’ve grown used to of most artists.  Each track sounding like a little planetary discovery on their own.   You’re the passenger on her spaceship and everytime she lands she hands you something brand new and very different than what she gave you before.  I find her to be one of the most pleasantly perplexing artists in the current world of pop.   She’s the definition of everything great about indie and one of the few artists that you reserve part of your brain to keep tabs on what she chooses to do next.  You want to know because St. Vincent makes you care.  She is truly great but she keeps evading that definition of exactly why when you’re friends ask “well, what kind of music does she play?”.   I don’t know dude – just come to the show.

With the live renditions pulled very closely from the studio versions you find yourself examining St. Vincent’s quirky movements, her gyrating but unconventional style of song structure, and most notably – her impeccable finger-picking guitar playing.   And let’s talk about that guitar playing.  SPIN magazine recognized it heavily.  You examine her guitar playing and it is effortless, like an extra appendage that is just along for the ride.  She picks and slaps at it like she just purchased it for the first time yesterday but the sounds she creates forces your head to swivel as you look around for a 2nd guitarist onstage because it’s simply not possible all of these sounds are coming from her.   But oh yes, my friend, they are.   We just love mysteries, and she is ours.

–TWTHS

Setlist:

Marrow, Cheerleader, Chloe in the Afternoon, Save Me from What I Want, Actor Out of Work, Dilettante, Black Rainbow, Cruel, Surgeon, Champagne Year, Neutered Fruit, Year of the Tiger, She Is Beyond Good and Evil, Krokodil
Encore:  Your Lips Are Red

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